Course ID 
Course Code 

From smart buildings and mobility systems to automated construction methods and circular approaches to reuse of resources, information technologies and systems thinking are changing our perspective to sustainable design. A more holistic approach that considers the entire lifecycle of urban, building and mobility systems as well as their interactions with humans is complementing traditional strategies of bioclimatic design. Such approach requires understanding sustainability as a performative attribute of systems that depends on the interactions of their components and a familiarity with theories, tools and methods to define, analyze, model and simulate such interactions.

The course approaches the subject of sustainable design of building, urban and mobility systems through systems theory and systems science. It introduces bioclimatic design principles and insights into the analysis, modelling, and simulation of complex systems as well as how these techniques can be applied to understand, frame, and approach important sustainability questions in architectural or urban design. Students will learn how to considers benefits, costs and performance limitations of systems, how to formulate meaningful research questions, and how to use diagrammatic methods, interactive simulations, and data visualizations to qualitatively explore scenarios to address them. Emphasis is placed on participatory or collaborative systems, on resource sharing, and on circular economies with applications in shared mobility systems and their interactions with shared living and working spaces.

The course combines lectures, class discussions, demos, a design lab project, student presentations and occasionally guest speakers. The course is organized into two thematic areas, taught interchangeably. The first area focuses on bioclimatic design of building envelopes through a practical approach. The second area focuses on urban and mobility systems and cyclical approaches to design through a system thinking approach. The design lab project synthesizes these two thematic areas. Collectively, the topics, techniques and technologies in the two thematic areas cover concepts of passive, active, and behavioral strategies to sustainable design. Due to the breadth of topics covered, there is no single dedicated textbook for the course. A list of suggested readings is provided in combination with lecture notes.

Weekly topics (topics subject to change)

  • Introduction: Sustainability, Carbon footprint, Circularity, Lifecycle Design
  • Bioclimatic Design
  • Design and analysis 1: the building envelope
  • Mobility on Demand (MoD) systems
  • System Dynamics and causal loop analysis
  • Design and analysis 2: Physics
  • Working session
  • Interim Reviews
  • Guest lecture on Circularity / System dynamics and stock-flow modeling
  • Working session
  • Working session
  • Cities and mobility: Land uses, building program, and sustainability of MoD systems / Guest lecture on computational urban sustainability
  • Final Reviews